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Harry and Meghan apologize after suing the paparazzi

LOS ANGELES – The case of unauthorized photography in Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor’s yard has been solved. And the legal outcome, unveiled Thursday by his parents, Prince Harry and Meghan, has left one of Hollywood’s largest paparazzi agencies with its tail between its legs.

In July, the couple filed a privacy breach lawsuit over photographs taken with a drone and zoom cameras of 14-year-old Archie playing with his maternal grandmother in their backyard. At the time, the family lived on an isolated estate in Beverly Hills owned by entertainment tycoon Tyler Perry. They did not name the defendants in the case because they did not know who they were.

The filing allowed their attorney, Michael J. Kump, to submit subpoenas to the three largest celebrity news outlets in Los Angeles: Backgrid, Splash News, and X17.

The culprit turned out to be X17, who, under a settlement agreement filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, agreed to turn over the photos to the family, destroy any copies in his archives or databases, and never trade in any photos again. of the couple or the child taken by similar means “in a private residence or surrounding private land”.

X17 will also pay a portion of the family’s legal fees, according to Mr. Kump.

In blunt terms, Harry and Meghan, who have clashed repeatedly with the British media over privacy issues, sent a harsh message to American paparazzi agencies with the case: You come find us and we will come find you.

“We apologize to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son for the distress we have caused,” X17 said in a statement. “We were wrong to offer these photographs and have pledged not to do it again.”

Mr. Kump said in a statement: “All families have the right, protected by law, to feel safe at home.”

The couple, who moved to California this year after a Dramatic dismantling from the House of Windsor, sued under the so-called paparazzi law, under which a person can be held civilly liable for an airspace intrusion to take photographs of a person on private property. The law was enacted in 1998 and last updated in 2015. It also covers the wild driving of famous photographers as they stalked their subjects, the kind of behavior that plagued Harry’s mother Princess Diana, who died in 1997 after that his sedan crashed while trying to escape the paparazzi on motorcycles.

Harry and Meghan – loved by millions of fans, who see them as bold and modern, and vilified by an equally vehement faction that sees their rejection of tradition as unseemly – have taken an unusually harsh approach to tabloid media. In April, complaining of “a click bait and distortion economy” and coverage that was “distorted, false and invasive beyond all reason,” they told four major British tabloid publishers that they would no longer deal with it. Meghan is suing the publisher of The Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail’s sister newspaper, for publishing a private letter she sent to her estranged father in 2018. Another lawsuit, directed at Splash News, involves photographs that were taken of Meghan. and Archie this year in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In case X17, Harry and Meghan discovered that someone was buying their son’s photos in stores around the world and claimed they were taken in public, according to the complaint, which noted that Archie hadn’t been in public since. the family has arrived. in Southern California. The photographs were published in the German magazine Bunte. However, the couple’s attorneys were able to move quickly enough to prevent their publication in the United States and Britain.

“Some paparazzi and media outlets flew drones just 20 feet above the house, even three times a day, to obtain photographs of the couple and their young son in their private residence (some of which have been sold and published), “Said the cause. “Others flew by helicopters over the courtyard of the residence, as early as 5:30 am and until 7:00 pm, waking up the neighbors and their son, day after day. And still others have even made holes in the security fence itself to peek through it. “

X17, owned by François Navarre and his wife Brandy, describes itself on its website as “the leading Hollywood celebrity photo agency, serving tens of thousands of media around the world with our high quality photos and videos. “. Variety magazine described the operation as “a web of undercover photographers and whistleblowers.” In 2003, Mr. Navarre had to pay Jennifer Aniston $ 550,000 solve a privacy lawsuit on photos of her sunbathing topless in her backyard.

“Yes, of course, it’s always a matter of private versus public life,” Mr. Navarre told the Los Angeles Times in 2007. “But you have an easy way to escape that. Get out of Los Angeles.”

In August, Harry and Meghan did just that, moving from Mr. Perry’s Beverly Hills home to one in Montecito, an oceanfront enclave about an hour northwest of Malibu. The couple bought the seven-acre estate for $ 14.7 million. It is fenced and surrounded by trees.

Paparazzi helicopters followed him.

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